Argao: Back where it all Started (Mt. Lantoy, Bugasok Falls, and Balay sa Agta)

After our year-end hike to Mt. Apo last year, I took a few months of hiatus from hiking. Suddenly, the thought of getting toasted by the sun and tracing new trails no longer did interest me. In short, I got tired of hiking. I mean, what’s there more to do?

I’ve been fortunate to have climbed Pulag, Kanlaon, and Apo, what else should I try to prove to myself? If you’re a beginning hiker, don’t get me wrong. Eventually, you’ll reach into a point when the mountains no longer bring you the thrill that you’ve been so excited about.

Eventually, you will realize that nobody gets a medal for finishing a number of summits or for arriving at the summit first. When this time comes, take a break. Because after you do, you’ll begin to love the mountains even more.

Argao Toursim Office (c) Dakilanglaagan
Several activities that can be done in the municipality of Argao (c) Dakilanglaagan

On a random invite of a Facebook friend, I found myself riding a bus bound for Argao. It was a Saturday morning, and instead of marathoning some Kdrama episodes, I decided to pack my things, wear again my trail shoes, and join a hike to Mt. Lantoy.

By eight in the morning, I arrived at the Argao’s Tourism office and met other hikers for the first time. After having been gathered by Charlone, the organizer of the group, we negotiated the fees for the day’s adventure and then went to the market to avail of some sustenance. We were then sent by the habal-habal driver to the base of Mt. Lantoy where our guide, Kuya Adon, was waiting.

Mt. Lantoy and the White Horse Stone (c) Dakilanglaagan

While Lantoy stands only the third highest in the municipality of Argao, Cebu, it’s also one of the most difficult to access because it’s a protected area of Argao, thus settling a permit for a mass climb in the area is quite difficult. Moreover, because of the presence of several cracks nearby, this has not been marketed by the Tourism office. However, because this mountain serves also as a laboratory for those studying forestry, this has been frequented by the locals and some students; hence, the same reason why we were permitted to visit Mt. Lantoy.

Hangin’ on hammock while waiting for Kuya Adon (c) Dakilanglaagan

Given the number of months of hiatus, I had a hard time adjusting to the pacing of the group as soon as we began our hike to Mt. Lantoy. They were even wondering why was I already panting given the major hikes I have attended to.

This then hit me. Back then, I treated hiking as a hobby, something that can just be done over the weekend, something that can just be taken for granted. What I have forgotten is that, for the months that I have been in the mountains, my body got attuned to the physical labor exerted upon such a task; eventually, such became a lifestyle. As a lifestyle, it should be lived all through the day.

Mt. Lantoy summit (c) Dakilanglaagan

The view at the summit of Mt. Lantoy was astounding. Given the cliff-like edges, we took turns in taking photos; meanwhile, Charlone and Kuya Adon were busy conversing about whether we’d visit the nearby cave located a few meters from the summit. We then made a quick visit to the cave that they were talking about only to find out a very small crack for an opening. You literally need to tuck your stomach and flex your other body parts to fit it.

Sadly, because Hermie was too tall, he decided to stay in the opening and wait for our return. Contrary to its mouth, the inside of the cave was big – not that monstrous though like Calbiga or White Cave. What struck me the most was the amazing rock formation among the stalactite and stalagmite that grew in the area.

Cave nearby Mt. Lantoy (c) Dakilanglaagan
Stalactite formation found inside the cave. Don’t they look like some reptile teeth? HAHA (c) Dakilanglaagan
Rock formation on the walls of the cave. Creepy looking, right? HAHA (c) Dakilanglaagan
Outside the kulambo. HAHA (c) Dakilanglaagan

After hovering around the summit of Mt. Lantoy we then went back to the base of Lantoy and had our lunch. We rested for a bit before we traversed to Bugasok Falls and Agta Cave. If you had been reading this blog for quite some time, these two majestic places hold a dear place in my heart as they were part of my initiation climb way back in 2014. Standing on top of Bugasok brought so many memories to me.

Where did I ever get the courage to jump Bugasok Falls back then? Honestly, I couldn’t find such bravery at that moment.

Lightweight hammock sponsored by a colleague who took a break from hiking because of family priorities. Thanks, Miss Tanen! Yes, I also brought this when we went to Hibok-hibok (c) Dakilanglaagan
Mandatory group picture (c) Dakilanglaagan
Bugasok Falls. Yes, me too. I can’t imagine I jumped on that waterfalls few years back. (c) Dakilanglaagan

After taking numerous photos of Bugasok Falls, we then proceeded to the famous Agta Cave located near Mt. Lantoy. Locally known as Balay sa Agta, this cave was believed to be the home of a giant mythical creature – a Philippine version of Big Foot. The cliffs that we had to pass reminded me of those days when I can’t barely look down and watch what was waiting for me at the bottom.

Somehow, tourism brought about heightened security in going to the cave. The paths were stabilized that for me, safety gears would no longer be necessary.  Come to think of it, steep and barely passable trails are what major climbs are made of. But of course, safety should be of topmost priority so… we went with the harness and helmets.

Securing the vicinity before crossing those cliffs (c) Dakilanglaagan
Cave opening of Balay sa Agta (c) Dakilanglaagan
Yes, quite technical upon the entrance. Manageable, nonetheless. (c) Dakilanglaagan
One of the many cascades found inside the cave (c) Dakilanglaagan

Because of time constraints, I wasn’t able to finish the Agta Cave tour on my first visit. Somehow, this was answered by this second visit. We reached the dead-end of the cave where numerous rock formations can be found. Such beauty reminded me of the exquisiteness of Calbiga’s Langon-Gobingob Cave System. To conclude the day’s adventure, we then headed to our last stop and feasted over the torta and sikwate prepared for us – as part of the tour package.

Perfect pair. Torta and sikwate. (c) Dakilanglaagan

I’d be forever grateful to Charlone and the company (Airine, Claire, Hermie, Kevin, and Witchauz) for the amazing company during our Mt. Lantoy trip. Now I’m beginning to wonder what would have become of me had they not involved me in such activity. Perhaps, there’d be a time when our interest in something would eventually fade; however, what’s dear to you would always find ways to reach you.

For me, they were sent by the mountains to remind me that the greatest tragedy in life is not about being left behind but leaving to die what mattered most inside while we live. Sometimes, the best way to appreciate something is to be without it for a while. For a while.

DISCLAIMER: Photo op only. The tourism management office of Argao is very strict with regard to the safety of their guests. Maximum habal-habal capacity is only up to two persons.

So, see you on trails again? Chika on Facebook and Insta!